Bibliography of Natural History Travel Narratives

Anne Troelstra’s fine bibliography is an outstanding and ground-breaking work. He has provided the academic world with a long-needed bibliographical record of human endeavour in the field of the natural sciences.

The travel narratives listed here encompass all aspects of the natural world in every part of the globe, but are especially concerned with its fauna, flora and fossil remains. Such eyewitness accounts have always fascinated their readers, but they were never written solely for entertainment: fragmentary though they often are, these narratives of travel and exploration are of immense importance for our scientific understanding of life on earth, providing us with a window on an ever changing, and often vanishing, natural world. Without such records of the past we could not track, document or understand the significance of changes that are so important for the study of zoogeography.

With this book Troelstra gives us a superb overview of natural history travel narratives. The well over four thousand detailed entries, ranging over four centuries and all major western European languages, are drawn from a wide range of sources and include both printed books and periodical contributions. While no subject bibliography by a single author can attain absolute completeness, Troelstra’s work is comprehensive to a truly remarkable degree.

The entries are arranged alphabetically by author and chronologically, by the year of first publication, under the author’s name. A brief biography, with the scope and range of their work, is given for each author; every title is set in context, the contents – including illustrations – are described and all known editions and translations are cited. In addition, there is a geographical index that cross refers between authors and the regions visited, and a full list of the bibliographical and biographical sources used in compiling the bibliography.

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Anne S. Troelstra held a chair in pure mathematics and foundations of mathematics at the University of Amsterdam from 1970 to 2000, and has published more than 80 mathematical papers and mathematical monographs. He is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. In 1996 he received the F.L. Bauer Prize of the Technical University of Munich for his contributions to theoretical computer science.
Following his retirement he turned into a distinguished, albeit non-professional, scholar of the history and social significance of Natural History, devoting much of his time to the study of natural history travel narratives. He already published two books on the subject (in Dutch): Tijgers op de Ararat (Tigers on Mount Ararat) in 2003, Kolibries in de oren (Hummingbirds in the ears) in 2009, as well as an anthology of Dutch natural history travel narratives, Van Spitsbergen naar Suriname, in 2007.
"RECOMMENDATION: For those with a serious interest in natural history travel literature." - The Birdbooker Report, September 9, 2017.

"Troelstra’s Bibliography of natural history travel narratives is an impressive source of information on virtually all natural history travel narratives with their editions and translations ever written and published. It is truly encyclopedic in listing bibliographic details mostly of book-length monographs as completely as possible, but Troelstra goes far deeper by providing short biographies and travel summaries for each work mentioned. Historical travel reports are often widely scattered and have often been published in only small editions, which hampers historical research on the geographic exploration of the world. A complete compendium of all natural history travel narratives was painfully missing, and it is due to Troelstra to close this gap. Troelstra has provided something really special: He has produced a complete and thorough bibliography, but also a book, whose short biographies and travel summaries are delightful reading." – Michael Ohl, Researcher and curator, Berlin Natural History Museum, Germany
"The breadth and depth of Anne Troelstra’s knowledge of natural history expeditions – from travel accounts to ethnography, flora and fauna – is finally made available in this valuable reference work." – Trienke van der Spek, Chief curator Scientific Collections and Library, Teylers Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands

"As far as I am aware this is the only bibliography of its kind. And it's a stupendous piece of work." – Redmond O'Hanlon
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